A Reasonable Alternative To Being Your Own ‘Self-Partner’

A Reasonable Alternative To Being Your Own ‘Self-Partner’ November 6, 2019

Single is out, Self-Partnered is in. So says Emma Watson who did an interview on the eve of her thirtieth birthday. The bit that everyone is tweeting about is this:

The actress – whose birthday is in April – says there’s an “influx of subliminal messaging” around about what you should have achieved by that age. “If you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby… There’s just this incredible amount of anxiety,” she told British Vogue . But Emma adds that she’s happy single, calling it “being self-partnered”.

The salient point being that if a young woman at the height of her career, having achieved more than most people can only dream of, is insecure about marriage and children, what of the rest of us? The solution, then, is to invent the new word, ‘self-partner,’ as a way of giving oneself permission to be happy where one is. To be self-partnered doesn’t mean that one will never be in a relationship with another person ever, but rather to signal one’s own happiness in the current moment.

Actually, that’s great. The word is stupid, of course—oh my word, let’s stop with words beginning with ‘self.’ But the idea of contentment? Of choosing to be fine with the current state of affairs? That’s a lesson we can all embrace, me especially.

I mean, I’m a decade older than Watson and I’ve ‘achieved’ many of the things she’s saying others have made her insecure about not ‘achieving’—a husband, a house, a gaggle of kids, a steady relationship—and she’s right, it’s not all peaches and cream. The first problem with it is that my own happiness is not the main course of the whole banquet. My whole life is about other people, whether I want it to be or not. If I wanted my whole life to be about myself, my unhappiness in the estate of marriage would be profound.

Fortunately for me, experiencing personal happiness was not my primary expectation upon entering the marriage estate. Being a holy person (that’s a little joke) and a Christian (not a joke) I knew that happiness was not the purpose of marriage, though it is certainly a very lovely bi-product. The purpose of marriage is to empty oneself for the sake of another person’s good, as indeed every corner of the Christian life is, single or wed.

In other words, I don’t think that most people going into a relationship with the expectation and hope of being made happy by the other person will find what they are looking for. Whoever looks for their happiness will lose it, just like life itself. Indeed, being ‘self-partnered’ won’t produce happiness either, no matter what anyone says on twitter, because happiness is not simply a matter of declaring that it will be so.

The trick is to look to the source of all happiness and joy—God—who is able to satisfy the deep craving of the human heart with himself. Joining your identity to Christ—Christian, rather than Self—means that you can be happy without all the work.

Don’t accuse me of being a hypocrite after my freak out of yesterday. Going through every scrap of clothing in a household of eight because the weather is getting crisp will not make any living person, except Mari Kondo, ‘happy.’ Rather, in whatever situation you find yourself, you can count it as happy, as joyful, because of the surpassing satisfaction and contentment of knowing Christ and being known by him.

Gotta take my little Eglantine to the doctor. Pray that the bone is coming back to where it should!

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